September 15, 2015
(THE PICKET) – A walkway that students used to go between the east and west sides of campus has now been closed off.
On Aug. 11, an e-mail was sent out to the student body regarding the university’s decision to close the gap in the stone wall at the intersection of Duke and High St. Their reasoning in the e-mail is due to near accidents Shepherd students have had while trying to cross the intersection and the lack of night-time lighting at the intersection.
“The University felt that the pathway through the stone wall and the Miller Hall grounds overtly encouraged our students to use that route and the High Street crosswalk as a pedestrian route,” James Vigil, vice president for administration, said in an email. “We felt compelled to eliminate the implication that we encourage students to use that route.”
The underpass currently serves as the most direct route between the two sides of campus. Shepherd spent more than $6 million on the project to link campus, allowing students to safely cross Rt. 480 and avoid the 5,500 vehicles that travel it daily.
When asked if other alternatives to closing the walkway had been suggested, Vigil admitted that there were discussions over a lengthy period of time. Ideas included placing a crossing guard, additional lighting, and adding a walk/don’t walk electric sign. The major problems with these alternatives is that the university owns only one corner of the intersection, the corner with the Miller Hall walkway, members of the community have said that they do not want additional lighting, and that any additions would need approval by the Department of Highways, which has rejected such proposal.
Vigil said that while the underpass route is not flat, it is always well lit and is maintained by the university. The High Street route includes an unsafe crosswalk, is not as well lit, and is not as well maintained , he said. He also said that the walk from West Campus Drive to the front door of Knutti Hall is the same either route, 4 tenths of a mile.
“We recognize that some students feel inconvenienced,” Vigil said. “We believe that when this is looked at more objectively, the soundness of using the internal campus route via the underpass is clearly better.”
Westley Elkins is a staff writer for The Picket. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @WesElkins.